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Political Cartoonist charged with #sedition ready to surrender

Sagnik Chowdhury, Posted: Sep 06, 2012 at 0325 hrs IST

Charged with sedition and insulting national emblems in his cartoons, Aseem — a political cartoonist based in Kanpur — claims he will travel to Mumbai and surrender to the police in a couple of days. The Mumbai Police’s cyber wing had blocked Trivedi’s website, www.cartoonsagainstcorruption.com, last December, sparking a debate on freedom of expression in India.Cyber Crime police officers in , however, said they “did not recall” such a case, as objectionable sites are blocked routinely by them.

Trivedi, 25, is a freelance cartoonist and 2012 recipient of the ‘Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award’ of Virginia-based Cartoonists Rights Network International. He shares the award with Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who is on Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. Controversial cartoons parodying national symbols and emblems were displayed by Trivedi during the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare at the MMRDA grounds in BKC in December 2011, leading to private complaints being filed against him.

In January, a case of sedition was filed against him at the Beed district court. In another case before the Bombay High Court, Trivedi has been charged with insulting India’s national symbols under the State Emblem of (Prohibition of Improper Use) Act 2005, which attracts a two-year prison sentence and a fine up to Rs 5,000.

According to Trivedi, a team visited his residence in Kanpur on August 30. “I was not at home, but my parents were taken to the local police station. By the time I reached the police station, the police team had left. It was only after I made calls to the that I was told about a complaint filed by advocate Rajendra Pratap Yadav. The police did not send me any notice earlier,” Tiwari told Newsline.

One of Trivedi’s cartoons depicts the Parliament building as a toilet, while another shows the Asoka pillar, which has bloodthirsty wolves instead of the four lions and the words Bhrashtamev Jayate in place of Satyameva Jayate. Yet another, titled ‘Gang Rape of Mother India’ features ‘Mother India’ wearing a tri-colour sari, about to be raped by a character labeled ‘Corruption’.

“I am in New Delhi for some work at present. I intend to arrive in Mumbai in the next two days and surrender before the police. I will not seek anticipatory bail. If I am held guilty of sedition in my own country on account of my cartoons, then it’s better not to fight any case at all. We saw what happened at the Jaipur literary festival with regard to Salman Rushdie. In Kolkata, a professor was arrested for merely e-mailing a cartoon that poked fun at the CM. These incidents pose a serious threat to artists,” Trivedi said.

After his website was blocked by the Mumbai Police, Trivedi started ‘Save Your Voice’, a campaign for internet freedom. “On December 27, 2011, I came to know from the domain name registrar that my site had been blocked by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch. Later, I learnt that cases had been filed against me in the court and the HC. I have not received any notice,” said Trivedi.

A senior Crime Branch officer said, “I can’t recall the details of this case. We receive several complaints and routinely block websites.”

Nand Kishore More, senior inspector, Cyber police station, said, “I am not aware of the case.”

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Comments (12)

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